sandpaper sheets

Super versatile and timeless, sandpaper sheets are an essential part of every workshop!

Abrasive Sandpaper Sheets

Sandpaper is one of the original abrasive products used by anyone from professional metalworkers and woodworkers to DIY hobbyists and knifemakers to shipbuilders. It’s a versatile consumable product that you’ll find in most toolboxes around the world.

What is Sandpaper

Modern day sandpaper isn’t actually made of sand, nor does it always use paper. Sandpaper is a coated abrasive made by adhering similar grit size abrasive grains to one side of a thick paper or cloth material with a resin bond or glue-like adhesive.

Sandpaper Grit

The number that you see associated with sandpapers’ grit depicts the size of the grains coating the paper. Besides the abrasive material, sand paper grit sizes are one of the most important features to consider when buying sandpaper. Each grit number is useful for different tasks and on different surfaces.

A high number grit means a finer textured sandpaper with smaller abrasive particles, and a lower grit number is a rougher/coarser sandpaper with larger abrasive grains.

Simple Sandpaper Grit Chart 

The finest sandpaper can be found in a 2,500 grit and the coarsest sandpaper goes down to a 12 grit. The extremes of these numbers are rarely used, but below is a sandpaper grit chart with some of the most used sizes and their common applications:

Wood Sanding Grit Chart

Grit Size

Grit Rating

Commonly used for

36 / 40

Extra Coarse

Removing stubborn paint and varnish

60 / 80

Medium Coarse

Paint stripping and shaping wood

100 / 120


Sanding bare surfaces and removal of planing marks

150 / 180 / 220

Very Fine

Prepping wood for paint

240 / 320

Very Fine (Microgrit)

Furniture work and dulling glossy paint

400 / 500 / 600

Extra Fine

Smoothing painted surfaces

800 / 1,000 / 1,200 / 1,500 / 2,000 

Super/Ultra Fine

Wet sanding

Metal Sanding Grit Chart

Grit Range

Common Applications

Example Projects

36-40 (Extra Coarse)

Heavy-duty material removal, shaping thick metal

Removing heavy rust, shaping welded joints, shaping cast iron

50-60 (Coarse)

Aggressive material removal, prepping for paint or welding

Removing paint, rust, sanding welds, prepping steel for welding

80-120 (Medium)

Smoothing surfaces, removing imperfections, prepping for finer sanding

Smoothing uneven surfaces, prepping aluminum for paint, removing scratches from stainless steel

150-220 (Fine)

Smoothing surfaces, prepping for polish or finer sanding

Finishing welds, prepping for clear coat, smoothing scratches before polishing

320-400 (Very Fine)

Final sanding before finer grades, light scratch removal

Smoothing surfaces before polishing chrome, prepping soft metals for paint

600-800 (Super Fine)

High-gloss polishing, removing minor imperfections

Polishing brass to a shine, removing sanding marks from silver

1000-1200 (Ultra Fine)

Mirror finish polishing, removing polishing haze

Finishing jewelry, polishing soft metals to a flawless shine

1500-2000 (Super Ultra Fine)

Flawless finishes, removing micro-scratches

Polishing delicate metals like gold, achieving a mirror finish on soft metals

Different Sandpaper Abrasives

Today you can find sandpaper in a wide variety of abrasive types which can be used for different types of surfaces and different kinds of jobs. Empire Abrasives carries three of the most useful types of sandpaper with 2 different abrasive grain options: silicon carbide and aluminum oxide.

Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper

Aluminum oxide grains are an incredible strong man-made material that measures about 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. That’s the same scale that rates diamonds as 10 for being the hardest. Aluminum oxide sandpaper is an incredibly versatile abrasive that can be used for hand sanding most materials from wood and plastic to drywall and ferrous/non-ferrous metals.

Silicon Carbide Sandpaper

The silicon carbide grains are an even harder grain than aluminum oxide, measuring about 9.5 on the Mohs scale. The hardness of silicon carbide makes it one of the preferred sandpapers for marble and glass sanding and polishing, though it can be used for metal and wood surfaces as well. Empire Abrasives carries two variations of this sandpaper:

  • Non-loading silicon carbide sandpaper - With heavy use, this type of sandpaper is prone to heating up and/or loading (gumming up). Our non-loading sandpaper is made with a special zinc stearate coating that acts as a lubricant to prevent this from happening.
  • Wet/Dry Silicon Carbide Sandpaper - This type of sandpaper gives you the option of wet or dry sanding thanks to it’s waterproof latex-backed paper. It is also available in some of the finest grit sandpapers available, going up to 2,000 grits.

Emery Cloth Sandpaper

Emery cloth sandpaper embeds natural emery grains to a cloth backing. The cloth backing is stronger and more durable than paper backing you’ll find in traditional sandpaper sheets. Emery abrasive grains are close to aluminum oxide in hardness, making it great for hand sanding, deburring, and smoothing out metal surfaces. It can be used to sand down most metals, but should not be used for sanding wood.